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"Have you tried... not being a mutant?"
X-Men 2

Genetics is a highly unpredictable thing. Sometimes it seems to seek to endow offspring with all the best or worst traits available. Hence the characteristic lament of parents who discover that instead of their dream girl, they have a rough-and-tumble boy, or that their long-awaited manly heir is actually a doe-eyed female. Or the kid simply is the opposite of what they want in talent or personality. Needless to say, this usually does not result in happy-go-lucky familial relations.

If the parents are really unhappy about this situation, they might raise the child to conform to their imagined ideal spawn. If the kid has powers, they'll be forbidden to use them. If they have the wrong gender, they'll have to imitate their desired gender (even giving them an appropriate name). This always has, at best, mixed success. Often said child catches on to their wish fulfillment and rebels.

That's assuming, of course, they can make it out of that house alive at all... Inheriting the family fortune is usually likewise out of the question, though chance and irony may well have them get it.

Compare All of the Other Reindeer, Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?, The Unfavorite, Where Did We Go Wrong?

Examples of Why Couldn't You Be Different? include:


  • In Urusei Yatsura, Ryuunosuke is forced by her father to be a tough boy, due to the latter's fanatical obsession with his family teashop and his delusions that a girl can't run it. Ryuunosuke does not appreciate this, being fully aware that she's really a girl and wanting nothing more than to be cute and frilly instead of rough and masculine (so much so that even girls who know she's really a girl try to get her to date them... although that might be because all of the real boys in schools are freaks, losers or lechers).
    • Of course this is also the case with Ataru Moroboshi whose mother is constantly going "I wish I never had him." There's also a scene where both parents are away reminiscing about their life, and when they start talking about Ataru, both say that they had wanted a girl at the time.
  • An unfunny example would be in .hack//Sign, where Tsukasa's father was abusive about wanting a different gendered child. We only explicitly find this out in the end, though it's implied earlier, with, for instance, scenes of him throwing away a bra she had stolen for herself.
  • Rose of Versailles has as its central character Lady Oscar, a French noblewoman raised as a boy by her father (who couldn't manage to produce a male heir). Unlike most characters forced to crossdress, Lady Oscar seems to have no problems dressing and acting like a boy — at least most of the time. (This could be due to the people around her being oddly accepting of her in her role as a woman pretending to be a man — to the point where they even allow her to be a military leader. To be fair, she does have to crack some heads to get some of her subordinates to fully accept her.)
  • Minagi in AIR doesn't crossdress, but she does take on the role of her Dead Little Sister for her mentally ill mother, who not only rejected the older sister but denied her existence.
  • There's a hentai doujin (part of the Secret Plot: Deep series) where a boy who looked like his twin sister was mistaken for her by his parents after her death and started pretending to be his sister while at home, but himself while at school. It all works out in the end, as it turns out the tomboyish gym teacher and his childhood friend both have learn they have fetishes for guys in skirts. One of the few examples (or only) where it works in the end. Of course, one has to wonder how healthy it is for his parents to live a lie, or how long he can keep it up. But then again, Bellisario's Maxim...
    • There's also a Korean series (I.N.V.U.) with the same story for one of the characters, except it was the daughter pretending to be the brother, and only the mother had mistaken her for the son (the son and mother were in an accident, and the son died while the mother forgot the daughter's existence)
  • Yuuri's mother in Kyo Kara Maoh! laments that she never had a "cute" girl and is permanently berating him for it. She even dressed him up in dresses when he was younger. (The fact that both her children are demon kings doesn't seem to rate on her list of things to be proud of either. Weirdo.)
    • She's actually extremely proud of them both. Very much including the kingship, although the calm with which she's taken that (and her idea of preparing him for it) is downright bizarre. She just really wanted a girl.
  • Done somewhat humourously in an episode of Slayers (Next, I believe), where there's supposedly a church town consisting completely of girls, and men were not allowed, causing some very amusing cross-dressing on the male characters' parts. Once it's found that one girl that Zelgadiss is getting a crush on is a boy, pretty much the rest of the village strips to their underwear to reveal the same. Read the summary here if you don't believe it.
  • In Boy Soprano, though Akira is technically an adopted son, his mother raised him as a girl since early childhood, and even made him attend the girls' high school she's the principal of. This is sort of a subversion: Not only does she already have a biological daughter, she doesn't actually wish Akira was a girl, either, and frequently takes advantage of him sexually. In fact, she made him go to the girls' school so she could keep an eye on him (and so that he could get to know his boy-crazy classmates. Even if it is often explicitly against his will.)
  • Kujira Etorofu from Penguin Musume Heart is raised as a boy by her father, who adamantly keeps denying she is a girl, despite her noticeable large breasts. As another result of this, she is being chased by her childhood friend Cha Chi, who wants her for her "husband". She even was confused about it herself as a kid and at one point confessed to a girl (and not just any girl either). Then again, she might just swing that way--and of course there is nothing wrong with that.
  • Ruki Makino of Digimon Tamers is essentially in the same boat. Her dad wanted a boy, and her mother tried to make her a model. Eventually, mother and daughter reconcile.
  • Yami no Matsuei's Hisoka is named after his dead sister, whom his father loved. To make matters worse, he has the ability to sense people's emotions, which caused his parents to label him as a demon and lock him away in a cage.
  • Karin's parents really wish she was a normal vampire. Of course, the fact that she isn't is a major plot point later on.
  • Don't forget Akito from the Fruits Basket manga. Akito's mother Ren raised Akito as a male because she was jealous of the attention Akito received for being born the zodiac God.
    • And then there's Momiji, whose mother said that her "greatest regret was giving birth to that creature" and actually had her memories of her own son removed.
  • Leads to explosive bouts of violent parenting in Umineko no Naku Koro ni.
  • Monkey D. Garp really, really wanted his grandsons to be marines like him instead of going into piracy. Granted, rather than a simple matter of carrying on the legacy, Garp just wanted to be loved by his grandsons and not have to arrest them when they inevitably became highly wanted criminals. The fact that his only son, Dragon, is the worst criminal in the world probably has something to do with this as well.
  • Kyouya of Ouran High School Host Club is the youngest of three brothers and therefore is believed to have no chance at running the Ootori family empire. His father pushes him all the time to do better ("being top of your class is something your brothers have already done...") and is never satisfied despite the fact that most non-family think Kyouya is the most striking and has the most potential of the three brothers, and Tamaki's father even scolds Kyouya's father for having four wonderful children (including his daughter) and being completely unsatisfied. Kyouya actually ends up earning enough money through the Host Club to not only buy his father's company but to throw it right back.
  • In The Secret Agreement, Yuuichi is initially abandoned by his clan for appearing to be a Muggle but then assigned an unrelated guardian to watch over him in case he starts showing signs of change. In perhaps an inversion, despite his uncle's congratulations when his supernatural side finally awakens, Yuuichi is horrified at becoming "normal".
  • Wallflower (or Yamato Nadeshiko Shiche Henge) is based on this trope, as Sunako, a girl traumatized by her first crush telling her she's ugly, grows up to become obsessed with horror movies and darkness, unable to even look at anything "bright" — or pretty. Oddly enough, her actual parents seem okay with it, defending her at school, but her aunt finds it unacceptable. The entire series is based on her aunt trying to get her four tenants (the most handsome boys in school) to turn her niece into a perfect girl — a Yamato Nadeshiko. In fact the Japanese name roughly translates to Perfect Girl Evolution in English.
  • Nono and Yuuta from the manga Nononono both get this from their father, but in different ways and for different reasons. Yuuta is subject to borderline abuse for not being good enough at ski jumping, and Nono is ignored because, as a girl, she can't compete in the Olympics for the sport. The premise of the story is that, after Yuuta's accidental death, Nono assumes his identity in hopes of making it to the Olympics and winning the gold medal to restore their father's honor.

Comic Books

  • Fanny of The Invisibles was born into a tribal society where only women could receive the blessings of the spirits; in order to fool the spirits into accepting the young boy as a shaman, his grandmother cut a slash in his upper thigh to fake a menstrual period. By the time the series takes place, Fanny is a transvestite call-girl.
  • Tyler Marlocke is sent to PS238 despite his lack of powers, because his parents (both superheroes) refuse to believe that he's a normal human and insist that his abilities will manifest if he's just exposed to the right trigger. Of course, they may be right, broadly speaking, as a normal boy going to a super-school results in the Batman-like Revenant taking an interest in the kid's future and well-being.
  • While the family was together, Finder's Brigham Grosvenor adored his daughters Rachel and Marcie, but didn't have much use for the middle child, his son Lynne, who ends up being raised as a girl. As if he wasn't confused enough, he develops breasts, just like all the males of his mother's clan.
  • In Strontium Dog, Johnny's father was the leader of a National Front-like party that seeks to purge New Britain of all mutants. Naturally, he's mortified that his own son is a mutant. When Johnny was a kid, he was forces to wear sunglasses at all times to hide his mutant eyes, and was told they were too sensitive to ever be exposed.
  • In Dork Tower, Kayleigh occasionally angsts about being overshadowed by her siblings and their numerous accomplishments, while she's reduced to being a journalist for a local newspaper.

Films — Animated

  • My Little Pony The Movie: Wicked Witch Evil Matriarch Hydia is thoroughly upset about her daughters Reeka and Draggle's ineptitude as wicked witches. "Why can't you be evil like I taught you?"
  • The Little Mermaid II has Ursula's sister Morgana, who at one point yells "It was always 'Ursula this' and 'Ursula that' and 'Why can't you be more like your sister URSULA?'!"
    • And when she achieves virtually complete control over the oceans, she howls at the skies, "WHO'S YOUR FAVOURITE NOW, MA?!" Freud would have a field day.
  • Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon is well aware that his father is not pleased with how his son turned out.

 Hiccup: He never listens. And when he does, it's with this disappointed scowl, like someone skimped on the meat in his sandwich. 'Excuse me, barmaid. I'm afraid you brought me the wrong offspring! I ordered an extra-large boy with beefy arms, extra guts and glory on the side. This here, this is a talking fishbone!'

Gobber: You're thinking about this all wrong. It's not so much what you look like — it's what's inside that he can't stand!

Hiccup: ...Thank you for summing that up.


Films — Live-Action

  • The very thing that put Angela off the deep end in Sleepaway Camp.
  • Faramir in Return of the King — especially the movie version, when he asks Denethor if he would have preferred Faramir to have died and Boromir to have lived. Denethor, master of tact, says "Yes."
  • In Stand by Me Gordy's parents paid much more attention to his older brother, who was a football star and had many friends in school. When he died in a car accident at his funeral, Gordy's father may have said to him "It should have been you, Gordon."
    • Since that occurs in a dream, it's more likely that Gordy's parents acted in a way that made him feel they would have preferred that he had died, instead.
  • In Dead Poets Society, Neil's father just CAN'T accept what his son wants to do in life.
  • Eastern Promises: Mob boss Semyon isn't too impressed with his son and heir.
  • In Ordinary People, older son Buck is killed in a sailing accident. Mother Beth (Mary Tyler Moore) admits to father Calvin (Donald Sutherland) that she would have preferred that her other son, Conrad (Timothy Hutton), had died instead.
  • Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, being a parody of Walk the Line, has Dewey's more talented brother dying young. The Running Gag of the film is Dewey's father regularly appearing and stating, "the wrong kid died!"
  • Live-action Spider-Man played up how much Evil Genius Norman Osbourne would have preferred to have Peter Parker as a son to Harry, who is thoroughly unremarkable and defined by the wealth Norman built up and then raised him in. It's in the dialogue and called back in the climax.


  • The mother of the savant-autistic main protagonist Christopher Boone in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time leaves her husband and moves to London with her next-door neighbour, telling Christopher via letter that she might not have done if he had been different.
    • She says she felt like she wasn't a good enough mother to him, and that, as his father was so much more capable, it would be better for her son if she just left. In her letters, and later when Christopher goes to London to see her, she's very sorry about it.
  • Conina, daughter of Cohen the Barbarian, the Discworld's oldest and most successful barbarian warrior, inherited her father's skills as a fighter, making sure she lived a life of high adventure. Too bad what she really wants to do is be a hairdresser.
    • Although this is not so much parental disapproval as a career forced by destiny. Due to the rather strange laws of genetics in Discworld, she has inherited not only father's skills but also his barbarian instincts. Turns out some people should really not spend their days holding a razor blade against people's throats.
  • Split Heirs has a quite a bit on this. See, the queen has triplets, two boys and a girl, in a land where multiple births are supposed to be a sign of infidelity. She has one son and her daughter smuggled out in secret and sends word of the birth of a son... only to find out that the boys were smuggled out and she was left with her daughter. And the one she trusted to do the smuggling has a heart attack after dropping off the kids. Flash forward years later to the queen still having to fake to the kingdom and her daughter that there's only the one crown prince. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Georg Weiler in Stones from the River spends most of his early life in girls' clothes because of his mother's issues with men.
  • Jaenelle Angelline from The Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop is neglected all through her childhood because her role as Witch, the Chosen One, means she's not entirely human and her family, unable to reconcile their fear/horror of her with her relatively innocuous outside, decide she's insane. Consequently she is repeatedly sent to an institution where she is terribly abused.
  • Played with somewhat in the first book of Robin Hobb's The Farseer trilogy, where the wife of Fitz's father finds she likes Fitz just as he is — except for the fact that he's her dead husband's bastard child, the son she never could give him due to her own frailty. The "Why couldn't you be different?" complaint isn't that he's the wrong sex or impaired, but is instead summed up in her lament to Fitz that, "You should have been mine!"
  • Vanyel Ashkevron had this in spades. Being a slight, delicate fellow whose main interest was music was bad enough in the eldest son of a provincial nobleman; but his interest in the opposite gender was also lacking.
  • Harry Potter's Dursleys absolutely detest the fact that their nephew Harry comes from magical stock. So much so that they hide him under a spider-filled cupboard under the stairs, until they have a reason to bribe him and move him into Dudley's room of old broken junk.
    • Despite the fact that he comes from a very loving family, Ron Weasley seems to believe that his mother values him less because he was the last of a series of sons born before Molly finally had the daughter she "craved."
      • The closest that Molly ever gets to this is wishing that Fred and George put more effort into their schoolwork and less effort into their pranks. This attitude vanishes since the twins start a successful business based on pranks and Voldemort's return means there are much more important things to worry about than grades.
  • In Robert Ludlum's novel The Janson Directive, Jessica Kincaid, a sniper hired to kill the protagonist who ultimately befriends him, explains that her single father effectively raised her as a boy, teaching her how to fix cars and hunt.
  • In Sue Townsend's The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole, Adrian's father and mother talk about Adrian, making him "sound like Damian in the film of The Omen", and then proceed to describe their respective ideal sons at length. They then say that if Adrian "turned out like he was," it's because they called him Adrian rather than Brett...which is what his father's ends up calling his second son.
    • Adrian, in turn, continually despairs over his oldest son Glenn's utter lack of intellectualism, obsession with football, and determinedly bad grammar.
  • Tyrion Lannister gets a rather harsh version of this from his father Tywin in A Song of Ice and Fire, due to his being a dwarf.
    • Randyll Tarly, likewise, does almost exactly the same thing to his fat, bookish son, Sam. As soon as little brother Dickon shows signs of the warrior Randyll desires, he sends Sam as far away as he can.
  • Dr. Austin Sloper in Washington Square not-so-secretly despises his daughter Catherine—she's not even a shadow of her beautiful clever mother (also named Catherine) in his eyes. While the elder Catherine was fair, witty, and extroverted, the younger Catherine is dark, "unclever" and a Shrinking Violet.
  • In the book Boot Camp by Todd Strasser, children are sent to an extremely dangerous and abusive boot camp called Lake Harmony to be "reprogrammed" into the children their parents want them to be. The main character, Garret, is sent becuase he embarrassed his parent by having a relationship with his teacher. His friend Pualy was sent there becuase his dad wanted a manly football player for a son and his parents thought he was gay because he wasn't tough.

Live-Action TV

  • In Skins, Sid's dad makes it perfectly clear that he would prefer Tony to be his son instead of Sid. He actually breaks down in one scene after seeing Sid and Tony together, and says to Sid, "Why couldn't you... why did I...?"
    • Which is ironic given that Sid, despite being a rather ineffectual loser and a tiny bit dim, is a genuinely sweet and well-meaning guy, whereas Tony (prior to his Character Development) is a cruel, manipulative jerkass who constantly taunts and undermines his own father.
    • This is made even more ironic when it is revealed that Sid's dad's dad hate despises him more than Sid's dad despises Sid.
  • Dr. Forrester, the mad scientist from Mystery Science Theater 3000 has, as his full name, Doctor Clayton Deborah Susan Forrester. (He was so named by his overbearing mother, who had really wanted a girl.)
  • Elliot Reid's father wanted a son. Which is sort of weird, considering how he already had four by the time his daughter was born.
    • It might not be so weird, as maybe it was more he wanted only sons. When he found out she would be a girl, he might've become disappointed.
      • It's still sort of weird, as his chances during each pregnancy were roughly 50/50. 4 out of 5 isn't too bad. Then, looking at how Eliot turned out after being raised in that family, none of them must be particularly reasonable.
  • In a similar vein, Robin Scherbatsky's dad also wanted a son — and didn't let the fact that she was his only child get in the way of that. Her full name is actually Robin Charles Scherbatsky Junior.
  • On The Big Bang Theory, Penny's dad wanted a son so badly that he forced her to play all sorts of sports so he could pretend she was a boy. It was so bad that she actually does everything she can to make him proud, but it doesn't work because she's a girl.
  • Joyce uses one of these in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. "Have you tried not being a Slayer?" Seems vaguely familiar...
    • Of course, it did come a couple of years before the page quote...
    • It's a coming-out joke both times.
  • Peter's father: "I just want a son I can be proud of!"
  • Frasier has a man's man cop with two sons who hate sports and love the opera. The situation recurses when Frasier himself narrowly avoids buying his son an educational toy as a Christmas present, of the sort that he never got as a kid, when all his son wanted was an RC monster robot.
  • Shawn Spencer of Psych also has a cop for a dad, who may also qualify based on their strained relationship.
  • Even House got this treatment from his father, who found his son a disappointment (to be clear, his father was disappointed in his son's abrasive personality and generally jerkass-ness, not for being a brilliant and renowned doctor).
    • It was later said that the two were never related in the first place, the man was not House's biological father, so that probably didn't help ease any tension. Him abusing House as a boy didn't do a lot for bonding either, come to think of it.
    • Made all the more poignant with the actor used to portray him: R Lee Ermey
  • The parents on Roseanne might not be really proud of their kids, but don't make an effort to force them to change since they recognize it would do more harm than good. One episode does give a brief nod to the desire for a child with a different gender though, and it's portrayed as something you really wouldn't do if you wanted what's best for your kids.

 Crystal: Y'know, sometimes I wish my Lonny was a little girl. Then I could get to dress him up in all sorts of dresses and bows and ribbons and put his hair in pigtails and... (She stops, seeing Jackie and Roseanne looking at her in a disturbed manner) I-I don't really do it, obviously.

  • Interestingly averted in Glee, where Burt Hummel admits that he didn't remotely anticipate having a son like Kurt, but still loves him deeply and would never want him to change. The aversion is seriously underscored when Burt orders his new girlfriend's son Finn — who is exactly the sort of boy Burt might be expected to want as a son — out of the Hummel house after overhearing him use the word "faggy" to describe Kurt's furniture (though later Burt calls out on Kurt's dishonesty about his crush on Finn and is shown to have forgiven and reconcile with his new stepson Finn months later).



 "I'm a boy, I'm a boy, but my ma wont admit it / I'm a boy, I'm a boy, but if I say I am I get it."

  • Paul & Storm's "Better Version of You," (song starts at 1:30) wherein a young boy is treated to a list of all the ways his new sibling will be better and more loved than he is. It is hilarious.
  • Simple Plan's song 'perfect', is essensially about this.
  • "She shoulda stayed away from friends / she should've had more time to spend / she should've died when she was born / she shoulda worn a crown of thorns / she should've / been a son" — "Been A Son", Nirvana
  • Linkin Park's song, Numb.


  • Moira Buffini's Silence takes place around the year 1000, and its title character is a girl who was raised to think s/he was a boy, so that s/he could inherit his/her father's lands and position.
  • Strauss and Von Hofmannsthal's final operatic collaboration, Arabella, has the titular character's younger sister Zdenka go through life as "Zdenko" instead, to save money.


  • Guilty Gear has Bridget, with the slight difference that the parents weren't trying to correct for any perceived defect in their child. They were trying to prevent the neighbors from realizing that they were raising twins of the same sex, which is considered an omen where they come from.
  • When Beat was alive in The World Ends With You, his parents had started voicing their desire that he be be more like his sister, Rhyme. This resulted in him starting to push her away.
  • Sophia Lamb from Bioshock proceeded with her plan for utopia by mind-raping her daughter Elanor in various recorded-lessons and mathematics studies, in order to 'properly' derange her so that she could become a fusion core for all of Rapture's insanity-induced genius. The result is based on what Elanor's "father", Subject Delta, does to good people while she's watching. If Delta saves as many persons as possible, Elanor becomes a perfectly normal teen, despite the mind-rape from birth. If Delta is an unrepentant child-killer, Elanor becomes the Antichrist's Wife. Either way, Sophia doesn't take the fact that her plan for saving the world from decay and subsequent nuclear armageddon is ruined very well.


  • Used in El Goonish Shive when Justin (who is gay) calls his parents to alert them he won't be coming home that night. We hear his half of the conversation: "Hello, dad... I might be sleeping over at a friend's house tonight... Uh, you've never met her, but her name is Susan and there's a girl named Ellen here along with Nanase... Yes, I am spending the night with three girls... No, I don't plan on sleeping with any of them... You know, most parents would be happy about their son answering no to that last question."
    • Later in that arc, Susan (who is not) has her mother lament her being straight; the former Mrs Pompoms's ex-husband cheated on her, and left Susan with a bit of emotional baggage regarding men in the process.
  • The Barbarian warrior maiden Jillian Zamussels in Erfworld, commander of the aerial cavalry of Prince Ansom, originally from the tiny utopian peaceful mountain kingdom Faq. Her "father", the king Banhammer, needed an heir, but "instead of a perfect little philosopher-prince like he wanted? ...He got a sword-swinging madwoman, who knows exactly which fork to use to pluck out an eyeball... but not for the salad". She delights in blood and guts mercenary work. She doesn't even look vaguely Asian as the other characters from her home kingdom, but has short blonde hair and a Scandinavian appearance.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, Zoe's mother is one of these. It's bad enough that she's got ridiculously puritan values (she thinks lingerie is a sexually transmitted disease), but she also has a strong Weirdness Censor, while Zoe is a Weirdness Magnet.

 Zoe (on the phone with her mom): "All right, I'll tell you! I'm trapped in a room where an alien and a rabbit with high explosives are trying to kill each other! ...No rehab Mom! I AM NOT on DRUGS!"

  • In The Law of Purple, Blue's father made no secret of the fact that he would have been much happier if Blue, the only one of his family to be born as 2nd Kind, had been "normal" instead. Blue's mother seems to have been more okay with Blue being 2nd Kind, but she was also a known eccentric.
  • Helen of Venus Envy frets that she may have inadvertently caused Zoe to become transgendered by having always wanted a daughter.
  • Roy Greenhilt of Order of the Stick has a bad relationship with his father. Eugene wanted a wizard for a son, but Roy's a fighter.
    • Bonus points to the fact that Eugene's father wanted a fighter son who would enjoy manly things like fishing and sports. Instead he got a son who was more interested in academics and becoming a wizard.

Western Animation

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Both Toph and Zuko have parents with serious issues.
    • Toph is an Extraordinarily Empowered Action Girl whose extraordinarily rich parents kept her locked up and treated her like a fragile China doll because she's blind and they don't know her powers.
      • And then when they do know about her powers, their reaction is to do an even more thorough job of locking her up.
    • As seen in flashbacks, Fire Lord Ozai apparently clearly favored his daughter Azula over Zuko, which took a toll on Zuko's self-esteem and development. Epileptic Trees theories abound as to where Ozai's indifference to and hatred of his son stemmed from, but a simple explanation is probably that Azula had The Gift and Zuko apparently did not. Also very probably because he was very clearly not a psychopath like him, and Azula equally clearly was.
    • Mai's parents pushed this so early it was hard to tell how and in what ways she would even have been different--she has completely blunted affect from overtraining in all the qualities of a proper lady. The knife thing appears to have been her awesome private rebellion, though given this is the Fire Nation it could have been part of the regimen.
  • In the later seasons of Dexter's Laboratory, it is revealed that the parents of Dexter's Evil Counterpart Mandark were in fact nature-loving hippies who didn't much approve of their son's obsession with science. Oh wait, did I say "Mandark?" I meant Susan.
  • Doughy, laid-back comedian Bobby is anything but the son Hank Hill envisioned he'd have in King of the Hill. Hank loves his son, but still openly pines for one who's more masculine. Hank might have a Freudian Excuse as his own father views him as a hugely unmasculine disappointment, although the older Hill seems to approve of Bobby by showing him the affection he'd never show Hank.
    • Though this does make it all the more heartwarming on the occasions when Hank finds a reason to be proud of Bobby.
    • Similarly the Hills' neighbor Khan introduces his kid as "Khan Jr." She normally goes by "Connie".
    • Subverted by Dale Gribble, who could never be disappointed by his son who is an alien.
    • Peggy Hill suffered/suffers this as well from her mother. Peggy's mother spent her entire childhood criticizing and belittling her, and spends her adulthood expressing how Peggy was a disappointment after twenty years of ignoring her. Her mother has said she wishes Peggy had married someone she had no feelings for, believed it to be her daughter's fault they almost lost the ranch at one point (it wasn't; she actually had nothing to do with it), and even favors Peggy's brother--a jailbird.
  • In the 1954 Disney short "Casey Bats Again," Casey is devastated that his new baby son is actually a daughter who cannot carry on his baseball legacy. He and Mrs. Casey try for a boy, but end up with nine daughters--which, he realizes, is enough to make up a girls' baseball team. They don't disappoint.
  • In an odd variant, The Spectacular Spider-Man's Norman Osborn wishes his son Harry was more like Peter, who is Harry's best friend.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, Lucius wants his son Beezy to drop his Lazy Bum lifestyle and become a dog-kicking Corrupt Corporate Executive like him.
  • In Fairly Oddparents, Timmy travels back in time a few months before his parents were born. It reveals both his parents wanted him to be a girl, and his dad even got him many girl toys and said "I'd be crushed if we had a son!" And if that didn't already fit this trope, we get this exchange...

 Timmy: That explains the pink hat.

Cosmo: And all these baby pictures of you in dresses.

  • In Moral Orel, Clay Puppington grows to resent his son for being a sensitive and innocent child, claiming that he's been corrupted by everyone else.
  • In The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Jonny is trapped in a Your Worst Nightmare situation by Jeremiah Surd where he is confronted by a doppelganger of his father Doctor Quest that calls Jonny a disappointment for not trying harder to be a scientist like him. Jonny falls to his knees and covers his ears as he tries to block out the fake Doctor Quest saying that he wishes the more academically oriented Jessie Bannon was his child instead of Jonny. The real Doctor Quest averts this trope hard and punches out the doppelganger for mocking his son.

Real Life

  • After a lifetime spent with one wife and a daughter — and a bastard son — he doted on, Henry VIII famously went off the rails in the last third of his life and went through multiple wives in an attempt to father a (legitimate) male heir. His first daughter, Mary, was a big example of this. Elizabeth, his daughter by his second marriage, was such a child as well. The (financial and social) circumstances of both were in constant flux during this period, dependent as they were on their father's goodwill, but Elizabeth generally fared a little better than Mary.
  • A real life example of this trope would be the Sworn Virgins of Albania — women who dress and act like men and who take up male roles in the community. (They are often encouraged to do so if a family produces no male heirs, since it's only men who can inherit property.)
  • Ed Wood, the infamous "Worst Director of All Time" and maker of the cult classic, Plan 9 from Outer Space, was routinely dressed as a girl by his mother (who had wanted him to be female). Ed never grew out of the habit of dressing in women's clothing, and for the rest of his life, lived as a non-sexually oriented transvestite; his film, Glen or Glenda, was based on his experience. (It is rumored he even participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal while secretly wearing a bra and panties beneath his uniform.)
  • The sad Truth in Television of many households with children with learning disabilities, and God help you if your parents prize things like high grades or how well others view the family.
    • If you're the only girl of your parents' children and they prefer boys or vice versa, you're definitely screwed.
  • Probably is the main source of Gayngst after Incompatible Orientation.
  • Barack Obama's mother was born with the name of Stanley Anne Dunham because--you guessed it--her father wanted a son. She eventually managed to drop the "Stanley."
  • Tina Fey has spent years humorously noting in interviews her annoyance that her daughter Alice has turned out to be such a princess-obsessed girly girl.